Your opinions on my 1955 brick ranch?
Hi, I’m looking to develop a plan as to how to convert my recently aquired home into a comfortable, reasonably energy efficient place to spend the next few decades.
here is the overview.
The place is relatively small, two bed, one bath, about 1200 sq. ft. It is constructed on a full basement walls of eight inch block. There is no insulation in the basement. The exterior walls of the first floor are 1/2″ plaster over 1/4″ rock lath. The lath is attached to 3/4″ furring over 4″ block, with an exterior layer of 4″ red brick. The ceilings are also rock lath and plaster on typical 2×6 ceiling joists. The ceiling insulation is nearly non-existent, with areas of original 2″ fiberglass batting encased in Kraft paper “pillows”, and random applications of unfaced r-19 glass batts. Another challenge is the ceiling itself, as it is about a holey as a screen door. At some point, decades ago, central air was added, and it’s a textbook case of what not to do. The attic is a spaghetti mess of 8″ flex duct blasted everywhere. There are 14 ceiling grilles for feed and returns. The flex is at least two decades old and falling apart, the box plenums, and inside/outside units are only three years old. On a 90* day the system really struggles to keep the interior cool. The most recent owner was a big fan of recessed can lighting and added ten of them to different rooms. The roof is ventilated with continuous ridge vent and gable end vents. Soffit venting would be a challenge as there are huge soffits, 3-7′ deep that were originally unvented, and covered with painted bead board, then recovered with aluminum soffit panels.
Obviously the issues include a ton of air infiltration. There is a stack effect with air moving behind the exterior plaster, from the basement up to the attic. All windows are vinyl replacements that are of varying ages. A lot of the windows are fixed glass, with big banks of tall vertical casements, ganged in groups of 3 to five, with every other one operable. The doors are original, with a bit of brass weatherstrip, but tons of leakage. The previous owner’s reported an average of a thousand gallons of oil burned per year, and that was AFTER a new 87% efficient furnace was installed a few years back. Oddly the near lack of insulation didn’t phase them, as they chose to add a $5000+ coal stove set-up to make the place warm enough to occupy without spend $3K on oil. They also switched from a summer/winter hook-up to a GE heat pump HWH. The coal stove is gone.
The house is a real special place, it is full of character, with hardwood floors throughout, plaster in great shape everywhere, and a ton of light from all the windows that give it a funky mid-century vibe. I have no intention of getting crazy and demoing anything in the name of better energy efficiency, It is located in a 4A zone, a few miles from the Maryland/PA border
So, after all this, my question is simple. What would you do, and how would you do it? Spray foam the rafters to make a hot roof. Get rid of the AC disaster and go with a few split systems? Spray foam the cellar walls?
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